The unprecedented times keep coming. A new study, published by researchers at China’s Peking University, suggests that the Earth’s core has not only stopped spinning, but may already be starting to spin in the opposite direction. In a true event straight from Jon Amiel’s screenplay The coreBeijing’s SinoProbe Lab at the School of Earth and Space Sciences has captured “surprising observations indicating that the inner core has almost stopped spinning over the past decade and may be experiencing a reversal into a multidecadal oscillation, with another turning point in the early 1970s. “
The study was published Monday in Natural Geosciences, a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal. Fortunately for all of us, such an event poses no real threat to our livelihood.
“There are two major forces acting on the inner core,” researchers Yi Yang and Xiaodong Song said in a recent conversation with Vice. “One is the electromagnetic force. The Earth’s magnetic field is generated by fluid motion in the outer core. The magnetic field acting on the metallic inner core is expected to drive the inner core to rotate through electromagnetic coupling. The other is gravity. The mantle and inner core are both very heterogeneous, so the gravitational pull between their structures tends to drag the inner core to the position of gravitational equilibrium, the so-called gravitational coupling.”
They added: “If the two forces are not balanced, the inner core will accelerate or decelerate. Both the magnetic field and the rotation of the Earth have a strong periodicity of 60-70 years. We believe that the proposed 70- year oscillation of the inner core is driven by the electromagnetic and gravitational forces.”
That means somewhere along the line the inner core just stopped spinning. The duo, along with countless other scientists, will continue to monitor the situation in an effort to “build quantitative models of the physical mechanisms of the multi-decadal oscillation system.”
Be that as it may, don’t worry because we don’t need to bombard the core to get it running again.
“We expect it to rotate west relative to Earth’s surface in the coming years and decades,” Yang and Song concluded. “Seismic waves are still the best way and therefore the continuous operation of high-quality seismic networks is crucial in this regard.”